2015 LMS Regionals: Flash Wolves
Flash Wolves (9-2-3) Second Seed
The Flash Wolves were the first team from Taiwan in some time to contest at an international until ahq rose to challenge and overthrow the Wolves for a ticket to MSI. The Flash Wolves, this split, had solidified themselves as the second best team in Taiwan, as they were considerably ahead of the league in terms of both macro play and late game shotcalling. Regardless of this, they were aware of their ceiling as a team with Steak and NL starting.
FW, early on, experimented with running MMD in the top lane, to play carry champions such as Rumble, in hopes of his mid lane skills carrying over. These experiments ceased rather quickly, as the team looked lost without Steak to command their team. After realizing that improving at the top lane position was futile, they looked towards replacing NL, who could not perform at an international level (as seen when stomped by Forg1ven at IEM). This would result in the team bringing in Korean challenger AD, KKramer.
The FW, for most of the split, appeared to be undoubtedly the second best team in Taiwan. The rise of HKE during the regular season led to them splitting their third series of the year, the other splits being against HKE and MSE. It’s key that in this series, that the FW had trouble playing the map effectively and controlling objectives, and had it not been for late game Azir, would have lost 2-0. Aside from this challenge, the Flash Wolves were sailing smooth into playoffs, especially with HKE Raison being banned, making it appear the FW would have it easy. Unfortunately for the Wolves, it was anything but this, as they were outmatched by a retooled HKE with May in the top lane, being knocked out 3-1 in convincing fashion.
62.1% AKP (Average Kill Participation)
-6.4CSD@10 (CS Difference at Ten Minutes)
15.2% DMG (Average share of team’s total damage to champions)
Steak is one of the original members of Gama bears, still on the team, along with SwordArT and Maple. He has long been hailed as the team captain of the Flash Wolves, being the main shotcaller for the team since their Gama Bears days. He’s also long been hailed as a below average top laner since his Gama Bears days. However, as time goes on, his standing as a top laner continues to worsen domestically, and has already shown to be ineffective internationally, at IEM.
Steak has fed on any champion not named Maokai, a weakness that HKE abused in their playoff series, by prioritizing or banning it. Steak has very little tangible strength as a player on the rift, as he is a weak laner, weak teamfighter, and does not use teleport particularly well. This is the reason for his insane Maokai priority. However, FW without Steak is an incohesive Flash Wolves, that seemingly has little idea of what to do. Despite all his faults, his voice is crucial to their success.
0.94 WPM (Wards Per Minute)
0.35 WCPM (Wards Cleared Per Minute)
Champions: Nidalee, Rek’Sai, Gragas, Rengar
Karsa was the new blood jungler last split, who showed a lot of potential and proved to be quite the upgrade over longtime jungler, REFRA1N. Famed for his Rengar play in solo queue, Karsa is the rare mechanically skilled jungler in the LMS, that prefers to play an aggressive early game, while putting a large focus on vision early, placing the most wards of any jungler. He attributes this to his personal study of Winds’s playstyle, the best jungler in Taiwanese history.
Karsa is very well known for being aggressive early and drawing a multitude of first bloods, often for mid laner, Maple. He also focuses most of his vision around the mid lane, in order to provide their main carry with a safer laning phase. Karsa possesses great mechanics and has a knack for putting pressure on the opposing jungler. However, he hasn’t proven that he can be a reliable source of engage for the Flash Wolves in the current meta, an issue that has plagued the team in the past.
Champions: Azir, Cassiopeia, Viktor
Maple has long been hailed as the prodigy of the LMS, and for good reason. Maple has a seemingly infinite champion pool that includes both control mages and assassins, although he has a tendency to favor the long range mages, such as Viktor and Azir.. He is the strongest laner in the LMS, while also having great positioning in teamfights to maximize his damage output.
Maple is the focal point of the Flash Wolves and often is catered to by Karsa, both with early ganks and with vision, as the majority of Karsa’s early warding is mid centric. Due to this, he also spends more gold on items, buying the least wards of any mid laner in the LMS. He performs with this added focus and extra gold, often being the main factor to a Flash Wolves’s victory due to his insane teamfight mechanics. He also has the least deaths of any LMS mid laner, staying safe in fights, despite the team's weak frontliner in Steak.
Champions: Vayne, Ezreal, Sivir
KKramer is the fourth Korean AD carry to be brought into the LMS and has brought a bit of quirkiness along with him. He first drew attention for his Essence Reaver on Ezreal and Wits End on numerous AD champions, influencing AN to build it on Sivir. He also brought forth a strange, small champion pool of Vayne and Ezreal. However, he had great performances on Sivir towards the end of the split.
Due to his champion pool and playstyle, he often has a weak laning phase where he is almost always down CS up until the mid game. KKramer has shown a preference to split push for the Flash Wolves, looking for 1v1s and farming a storm on both side lanes, as Steak hardly gets any empty lane farm. KKramer has strong mechanics and has shown carry potential, but communicating with SwordArT and growing pains in expanding his champion pool have limited him. While he showed progress in the playoffs with solid Jinx and Kalista play, he is still a step or two away from being the Flash Wolves’s legitimate, second carry.
Champions: Janna, Morgana, Alistar. Annie, Thresh
SwordArT is the other remaining Gama Bear on the roster and is no old timer liability like Steak, REFRA1N, or NL. He is the opposite, as he been a top support in the region for the entirety of the season and for the majority of his career. He has been hailed by many Korean AD players for his outstanding support play, while easily reaching top 20 on the ladder in the past.
SwordArT is a disengage support specialist, pushing Janna and Morgana to their absolute limits when they are in his hands. This is especially key when his top laner, Steak, is not the best front liner and KKramer is still a rookie carry. His protection of Maple and NL in the past has also pulled off several comeback wins in itself. He has also proven to be a very good Alistar player this season, while also playing the off-hand Annie or Thresh game, when the team is in need of more engage.
His vision game is crucial to their objective control and coherent map movements. SwordArT has a strong sense of where and when to ward places, allowing for his team to have the information to make the best decisions. This was a huge reason that the Flash Wolves were so dominant in the Spring Split and continued to be the second best team in the Summer Split.
Flash Wolves at Regionals
The Flash Wolves are always a high riding team, one with expectations, as they show wonderful map play and solid early games through the lane swap. However, the same issues continue to hold back the Flash Wolves, from ever truly ascending. A portion of their problems stem from their actual roster, where certain players cannot fulfill the necessary role on the team.
In the current meta, the Flash Wolves are stuck without a player who can reliably engage teamfights. Steak is typically lackluster at the teleport flank and target prioritization, while Karsa has only brought reliable engage on Ekko, in the current meta. SwordArT, while talented, will always be more suited to disengage and should generally be secondary engage, if the Flash Wolves require further engage.
This leaves them as a primarily reactionary team when it comes to teamfights, as a lot of the time, they have trouble setting up a good one for themselves. This also means, despite the information that SwordArT and Karsa provide with their vision, their play is still focused around out rotating and turning teamfights on their head. This style should work fine against MSE, assuming they haven’t figured out their own communication issues, but HKE will punish the Flash Wolves’s lack of initiative.
Also, despite their map play and strong vision control, their objective control is still second to HKE and ahq, as their side wave management is not at their level. Waves are often not set up around objective timers, hurting their ability to pressure efficiently at a tower, dragon, or Baron.
That said, a core issue that has existed for the Flash Wolves, for quite some time, has a huge dependence on their mid laner, Maple. KKramer is a sizable improvement over NL in teamfights and has made strides towards being the second carry, but is still not quite someone the Flash Wolves can play around. Additionally, with a front line player like Steak, it is more difficult to put out damage from the backline, as they face more pressure than someone like caNdy or Toyz does.
The Flash Wolves seemingly have trust issues within the game, as there has been a lack of follow up between team members in recent times. The Flash Wolves, in their current form, will have more trouble than they should with MSE, and will likely not be able to contest the continually rising HKE at regionals.